Where’s The Love For Andrew Bailey?

By Benjamin J. Pavlovic

Let’s take another look at the reigning AL ROY award-winner, Oakland’s Andrew Bailey.  Now I completely agree that there will be some regression here, but is there any good reason why Bailey can’t be a Top-10 closer in 2010.  To that I say, “negative Ghostrider, the pattern is full.”  And color me unsurprised should he finish the year as a Top-5 reliever.

Yes, he appeared out of nowhere, but he has always been a true strikeout arm – just check the numbers.  That’s what we look for when evaluating a young pitcher, right?  Strikeouts are one of the “Three True Outcomes” as noted by our friends at Baseball Prospectus. What’s that?  So are walks you decry?  Look at Bailey’s past control issues!  Valid point.  But pitchers find their control and learn how to pitch as they age.  We saw Bailey make that jump last year once he converted from starter to reliever.

Looking back at 2009, Bailey was dominant across the entire season.  He didn’t Ryan Franklin himself and fall apart down the stretch.  In fact, his control improved and his batting average against dropped slightly.  He only walked FIVE batters in the second half.  That’s Mariano territory, folks.  He also struck out 91 batters over the course of the season.

Player A - 72 strikeouts, 12 BBs.
Player B - 76 strikouts, 24 BBS.
Player C - 89 strikeouts, 22 BBs.
Player D – 91 strikeouts, 24 walks.

The players, in order are: Rivera, Papelbon, Nathan and Bailey.  Yes, I’d certainly take Mo, Paps and Nathan over Bailey, and so will your league mates.  They all registered more saves and have a proven track record.  But let your league mates draft Mo and the boys in the fourth round while you add another power bat.  Pounce on Bailey once the big boys are gone and enjoy the ride.

Bill James predicts Bailey to hurl 72 innings, while garnering 29 saves and a 71/29 K/BB ratio.  He is calling for some regression sure, but I’ll take those numbers right to the bank.  We saw Bailey take a gigantic step forward last year, don’t be so skeptical and call it a mirage.

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Make sure to check out some of our 2010 projections, including:

8 comments

  1. Jimmy says:

    Even though I expect Bailey to remain a very solid closer, there are some issues with him from last season. For one, his BABIP was an extremely low .234 and a bloated 84.9% strand-rate. Even if part of that is due to walk issues at the beginning, it still would rate him second in the majors if he qualified in innings. Despite all that, the control improved, the strikeouts look to be legitimate, so he should be very usable this year. I still wouldn’t expect him to be top 5, though.

  2. MDS says:

    hopefully he doesnt get hurt and lose his job like every other oakland closer

  3. Rotoprofessor says:

    Like Jimmy said, his numbers have to regress in ’10. Don’t get me wrong, he’s very, very good, but there was a lot of luck included in his sparkling numbers. Top 5 just seems like a long shot to me with that in mind.

  4. Ben says:

    I wouldn’t bet on Top-5, but I would bet on Top-10.

  5. BLAZE says:

    Bailey looks to remain a future stud. Just go look at Bailey’s pitch values on fangraphs and you’ll see what im talking about. He had the best value on his FB (2.10) in the MLB with atleast 60+ innings ptiched. And Only Nathan/Broxton have lower Contact % then Bailey among closers. His Curve pitch value was insane too.

    A’s team-mates last year were quoted as saying Bailey has a rocket launcher for an arm. He’s a guy that im buying even though the bloated Strand Rate and low BABIP will take its toll on his numbers this year. I still think he’ll be one of the better closers and his high k rate is icing on the cake. BUY.

  6. Neetz says:

    I agree that Bailey is an absolute stud. After owning him last year, I truely appreciate what he brings to a fantasy team. The only question I have when it comes to Bailey is save opportunities. I would love to see that arm on a winning team.

  7. James says:

    How do we know his BABIP or LOB% will regress? Andrew Bailey was a converted starting pitcher, which means any comparisons of previous stats are flawed and consequently wrong. Sure, they will probably regress by a small margin, but his contact % and bb/9 say otherwise.

  8. TY says:

    neetz- the A’s have some better young arms than maybe you think… closers on bad teams still manage to get 30 saves… he’ll be alright in opportunites.

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